Cult of the Bean

Cult of the Bean

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The aroma. The taste. The ritual of the preparation, and the anticipation. It’s more than just a drink.

Coffee is an integral part of cycling and cyclists lifestyles. But, like Campa versus Shimano, or white socks versus black, the way we imbibe the magic bean can be just as polarising.

We received an email from a reader with a suggestion for The Rules. Rob infers that anyone partaking in a soy-based brew, or a ‘lite’ milk additive, should be ceremonially beaten. “Harsh but fair” he believes, such as we always imply with The Rules.

Already I am receiving unflattering, downright tempestuous emails from my fellow Keepers regarding my soy intake confession. Yes, I unashamedly admit to this ‘foam pas’ and will accept any abuse like a man. A soy-drinking man, dammit!

But no matter how you enjoy your bean, there’s one thing for certain;  coffee is good. Some say it should only be consumed black, sans sugar, in a ceramic cup. Others, like Rob, suggest it can be enhanced with a small amount of milk, i.e macchiato. While everyone has different tastes, I’m sure most of us would agree that caramel, butterscotch and excessive amounts of foam, sprinklings and flavourings have no place in any cup.

 

// General // La Vie Velominatus // Reverence // The Rules // Tradition

  1. minion:
    Whoa, that was a bad idea trying that one out. Have you seen my website, steampunkiswhyimfat.com?

    Domains are cheap. Any desire to start a sister site devoted specifically to coffee and cycling? Ha!

  2. What is the trick to making a good cup with one of these?

  3. @RedRanger

    What is the trick to making a good cup with one of these?

    You can’t, really. The very premis of how it makes coffee means you won’t get espresso and you’ll likely just get a strong cup of (burnt) coffee.

    A real espresso machine uses pressure, not steam, to make the coffee, so the beans don’t get so hot while the water moves through them, absorbing all the goodness from the ground beans. When it’s steam that’s moving through the grounds, they get burnt on the way through and that leads to bitter coffee. (A lot of coffee houses burn their espresso as well, by using too fine a grind which also makes the water take too long to pull through the grounds. Good espresso is not bitter.)

    The best way to counter the burnt taste is to use a coarser grind and accept the fact that you’ll just have strong coffee and not espresso; all your efforts to make a drinkable cup should be focussed on getting the steam through the grounds as quickly as you can while still having them stay in there long enough to pick up enough flavor. It’s an art.

    To make a real shot of espresso, you’ll need a machine that can produce a lot of pressure, like a Rancilio Silva. Even then, it’s an artform.

  4. Or you can get one of these. I have an espresso-ologist friend who, reluctantly, thought my little machine made a quite nice espresso. Maybe he was just being nice, but he didn’t come across as patronizing, so I believed him. Anyway, works for me.

  5. Damn. The link didn’t go directly to the CitiZ & Milk in Limousine Black. That’s what I have. Oh well. Now you can go through the whole website.

  6. Hate to keep doing this, but an A. Schleck Cervelo just turned up in my coffee shop. Will try to snap a pic next time I’m in. Is it too soon to think of that period as the good ol’ days for the Schlecks? Things are spiraling downward fast…

  7. @minion

    Steampunk:

    Jarvis :
    @Steampunk
    Oh, I would be living in that cafe, as long os the coffee was up to standard.

    On the coffee subject, though, I’ve taken to liking a puddle of condensed milk in the bottom of my espresso. Apparently, it’s popular on the Pro Tour (I do it, though, because it’s yummy). I see this as different than the butterscotch, caramel, and foam line of thinking, which I find abhorrent, but thought I should make sure.

    Whoa, that was a bad idea trying that one out. Have you seen my website, steampunkiswhyimfat.com?

    Don’t know how I missed this””sorry; I hope you’ve kicked the habit. Just had myself a bon bom this morning before the ride. I can’t decide whether the caffeine and sweetness enhance the ride or whether the condensed milk just gums up the works. I could still taste it on the first hill. But it’s one beautiful drink in a shot glass””looks almost like a mini, upside down Guinness before you stir. The next two guys in line (who I didn’t know) got the same thing after seeing me, resplendent in V kit, knock that back (all very pro; helmet hung properly on bike outside; question: do gloves come off or stay on when off the bike?). I might start working on a commission…

  8. @Steampunk
    When I die, I’m coming back as you. Lucky bastard.

  9. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I’m not quite sure what I think about that. Part of me is flattered, but most of me is a little weirded out. You know I don’t have a Look, right?

    Of course, right now, sabbatical in full gear, I’m riding Tuesdays and Thursdays without any interruptions to the day. And Saturday morning spins. And lots of espresso at the shrine. Life right now is pretty good…

  10. @Steampunk

    Life right now is pretty good…

    And that, my friend, is what I’m talking about. Good on ya, Mate.

  11. I’m just imagining if JiPM did come back as Steampunk in another life, that be the time he was 3 years old there’s a look 695 in his bedroom as a result of the terrible twos.

  12. @RedRanger
    Low heat and patience. I only go a bit above half on the element dial of the stove I’m using, to stop it burning. Takes fricken ages but there is a bit of a difference, coffee burns pretty easily in those.
    Oh and good sugar. Or condensed milk.

  13. @Minion
    If all I gotta do is act like a two-year-old to get a 695, sign me up. I’m qualified. I might even play with matches if it means I get a bump up to a Mondrian. I can be a terrible, terrible toddler.

  14. @Minion @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I don’t know how that follows; I’m hoping the terrible forties start yielding that kind of bike, ’cause I’m still waiting…

  15. @Steampunk
    Jeff’s a talented man.

    @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Oh here we go. Maybe we should replace the mid life crisis with the mid life tantrum. Actually I get the feeling that that’s already happening, somewhere for someone…

  16. Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

    That is all.

  17. @Steampunk
    Very, very cool. But that’s a sloppy tape job.

    Where does your Cafe Domestique guy get his bikes? He must have a direct Cervelo connection, yeah?

  18. @frank
    The tape job surprised me, too. I’d like to think that’s Andy’s sweat on the tape””which makes the wrap 3+ years old””but it’s still a little sloppy.

    Yes: very tight with Vroomen, White, and the rest of the Cervelo crowd (he serves a Phil White coffee); I’m a little confused with the chronology, but I think he worked at Cervelo at some point (was Canadian national team mechanic and started out in Michael Barry’s dad’s bike shop in Toronto. Thor’s rainbows are on the wall to the left of the bike, and we’ve had Zabriskie’s 2005 TdF TT bike and A. Tafi’s bike come through. Cervelo also launched the S5 at the coffee shop during the Tour.

    In short, this is a good place.

  19. My rig for ride preparation. Usually just espresso but occasionally a cortado.

  20. @All

    there are some nice setups there, as for mine it is basically the VMH.

    All Turkish coffee is served in the tiny little cups you would expect for an espresso. Basically she gets the freshly ground coffee powder which she gets shipped over regularly and then adds a few spoons of it per serving to her chosen coffee stewing pot which is capable of doing no more than three cups at a time. She then turns the gas to medium and allows it to brew for about 5 minutes in total with some gentle manouvering as required. Close to the end she will add a couple of sugars to my empty cup. Just as the coffee is ready it also starts to produce a foam and with just the right jiggery pokery she will add the coffee to my cup and hers but the foam equally distributed across both. There is no need to stir the sugar in as it is dissolved and distributed by pouring. Finally once fully consumed you will see some remaining coffee powder in the bottom of the cup, this can be eaten if you are suitably V enough. It is however never filtered out as this would remove the fine coffee powder and a significant amount of its flavour from the resulting drink, or so I am told.

  21. Can anyone recommend a good Moka Pot. While it isn’t real espresso its still damn good coffee. I was introduced to them in France when at a bed and breakfast a year ago, and despite being a tea drinker I enjoyed the coffee.

    From what I’ve seen the Bialetti Brikka is best, and even produces a foam by reaching higher pressures than a standard moka pot.

    I would buy a real espresso machine, but I’m broke and have no space in the kitchen.

  22. @minion
    WARNING: Do not try one of these if you are going to ride immediately afterwards; I think these need to be limited to post-ride or””better””I peaked a couple of months ago. There’s a no swimming after eating kind of effect that you must take into account. Seemed to get a little more condensed milk (and, subsequently, less espresso) today and I just couldn’t move my legs on the bike for the first hour of the ride. Legs felt heavy and stomach felt blah. Not fun. Still, tasty as all get out and it’s hard to pass up a solitary autumn ride in the sunshine. I actually sighed in satisfaction at one point; the Principle of Silence was such that the sigh was quite formidable, which made it even more satisfying.

  23. @Steampunk
    Even worse, my flatmate has just been on holiday to Vietnam, where they sweeten black coffee with about 2 cm of condensed milk in the bottom of the glass: ideally paired with 95% humidity, 2 packs of cigarettes and riding everywhere on a tuktuk. They make my kidneys ache just thinking about it, and are no match for the euro cache of the bob bon. Even SWMBO is hooked on those and isn’t a coffee drinker at all: though as an after dinner sweet.

  24. @Minion
    I’ve actually decided that this is wasted on fine coffee. But it’s a major solution to most places that think they’re serving espresso””from Starbucks on down. I take great pleasure showing up with my own shot glass with condensed milk at the bottom and ask for an espresso. And then explain that their coffee is shite without it…

  25. With the Vietnamese coffee that my flatmate bought back, it’s a different type – woody, nutty smelling and very oily. I haven’t been tempted at all to try and make regular coffee with it, and it’s cool for novelty sake but won’t be a long term replacement.

  26. @King Clydesdale
    I use the Bialetti Moka. It’s not as good as a proper latte, but it gets the job done and I don’t have the counterspace for proper equipment.

    @Minion
    Those Vietnamese coffees are the bomb. I still have my little Vietnamese filter from a trip there 15 years ago. Another great thing about Vietnam: Draft beer is cheaper than bottled water.

  27. @Minion
    Very oily beans usually means that a good portion of the coffee goodness was roasted out of said beans and won’t end up in your cup. Instead it will be on the surfaces of your machine. The oils stick to everything and go rancid very quickly. Just some words of caution in case you run some of that through your new set up and then in a week or so are wondering why you can’t seem to get a good cup of coffee anymore. A good cleaning and you will be back to java junky heaven.

  28. For all the backpackers that need their fix but want to decrease the footprint of coffee equipment, this works well. A stripped down Moka:

    backpack “espresso” maker

    It can be used on the stove at home but be prepared for some splatter.

  29. Not to turn into a broken record about how cool my café is, but the green bike in the foreground showed up last week. Will provide a better pic shortly…

  30. Any pic would be good!

  31. @Oli
    Bah! Use your imagination.

  32. @Oli
    I’m sure @Steampunk is referring to this beauty:

  33. @itburns @Oli
    The correct pic seems to be up now. Or this one?

  34. @Steampunk
    But wait a minute: what are Cav and Thor sporting on their right wrists??

  35. @Steampunk
    Livestrong Cock Rings of Pure Awesome.

  36. Huh. Thor’s on 7800 while Cav’s on 7900 Dura Ace?

  37. From the New York Times:

    Scientists and many athletes have known for years, of course, that a cup of coffee before a workout jolts athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling. Caffeine has been proven to increase the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream, which enables people to run or pedal longer (since their muscles can absorb and burn that fat for fuel and save the body’s limited stores of carbohydrates until later in the workout). As a result, caffeine, which is legal under International Olympic Committee rules, is the most popular drug in sports. More than two-thirds of about 20,680 Olympic athletes studied for a recent report had caffeine in their urine, with use highest among triathletes, cyclists and rowers.

    Interesting. I crossed out the stupid bits about running.

    Continuing:

    All of which would seem to indicate that a grande Americano is the ideal sports beverage. But, Dr. Mohr cautions, many questions remain. “We don’t know the best dose” of caffeine to provide performance benefits without undesirable side effects, he says, like heightened blood pressure or the jitters. In his study, volunteers consumed the equivalent of more than five large cups of brewed coffee before their workout.

    Clearly, no one has mentioned to them that the ideal dose would be a straight double espresso?

  38. @mcsqueak
    A+1 on the espresso.

    This sits between me and my espresso at my café at the moment:

    God of Thunder (vintage 2009).

  39. @Steampunk

    Huh, that looks like Fr0nk’s setup!

    Wish I had a bike-specific coffee shop around here. There is one around the corner from my house, but I’m afraid my ride would be nicked from out front if I went in to grab an espresso right before the ride.

    I still haven’t been able to manage to coax good ‘espresso’ out of my Mokapot as of yet, not sure what I’m doing wrong but it never really tastes that awesome, very “meh”.

  40. @mcsqueak

    Wish I had a bike-specific coffee shop around here. There is one around the corner from my house, but I’m afraid my ride would be nicked from out front if I went in to grab an espresso right before the ride.

    I carry a Burton Snowboard Lock for those times when you want to help insure your bike is where you left it. Not a hardcore lock by any means, just a deterrent against someone taking a joyride.

  41. My espresso machine is better than your espresso machine :)

    The Rancilio Silvia, imported direct from Italy. I also have a Gaggia burr grinder that sits next to it on my kitchen counter, and I grind the beans as needed to make the perfect espresso. (Hey, if you’re gonna have expensive, top-quality bikes and cycling gear, might as well do the same for coffee, right?)

  42. @doubleR

    My espresso machine is better than your espresso machine :)

    @itburns

    My rig for ride preparation. Usually just espresso but occasionally a cortado.

    Not as nice as this beast, the Expobar, f’ing beauty right here. @itburns rules.

  43. @Gianni

    @doubleR

    My espresso machine is better than your espresso machine :)

    @itburns

    My rig for ride preparation. Usually just espresso but occasionally a cortado.

    Not as nice as this beast, the Expobar, f’ing beauty right here. @itburns rules.

    Holy Merckx! I’m seeing a digital display for the water temperature, two analog gauges for steam pressure, and two steam wands, correct?

  44. Ah this is the thread I was looking for months ago. you guys might want to rustle up one of these.

  45. @doubleR
    Oh yes, PID temp control, one wand for steam, one for hot water. It’s the Thor of espresso makers. Actually it’s Spanish, so maybe the Indurain of brewing machines. Daddy wants very much.

  46. @snoov

    Ah this is the thread I was looking for months ago. you guys might want to rustle up one of these.

    I love the way the copper contrasts with the polished steel. I am puzzled, however, exactly what it is? Maybe some sort of improvised filter holder?

  47. It’s a stencil for cappuccinos.

  48. @snoov

    It’s a stencil for cappuccinos.

    Oh, yeah…it makes sense now! Thanks.

  49. @Gianni

    @doubleR
    Oh yes, PID temp control, one wand for steam, one for hot water. It’s the Thor of espresso makers. Actually it’s Spanish, so maybe the Indurain of brewing machines. Daddy wants very much.

    E61 group head with preinfusion, a group head pressure adjustment screw behind the drip tray, double boiler – one boiler for group head and one boiler for steam and micro temperature group head adjustments. Took me a long time to get to this but it’s nice to know I am done with upgrades. Current version has added manual control of preinfusion time and an option to switch off steam boiler if you are just pulling espressos. Thing is a beast. Weighs 62 lbs/28kg empty.

    Also highly recommend the Compak K3 Touch grinder.

  50. @itburns

    @Gianni

    @doubleROh yes, PID temp control, one wand for steam, one for hot water. It’s the Thor of espresso makers. Actually it’s Spanish, so maybe the Indurain of brewing machines. Daddy wants very much.

    E61 group head with preinfusion, a group head pressure adjustment screw behind the drip tray, double boiler – one boiler for group head and one boiler for steam and micro temperature group head adjustments. Took me a long time to get to this but it’s nice to know I am done with upgrades. Current version has added manual control of preinfusion time and an option to switch off steam boiler if you are just pulling espressos. Thing is a beast. Weighs 62 lbs/28kg empty.
    Also highly recommend the Compak K3 Touch grinder.

    Holy crap….with boilers filled, it would be a two-man lift just to reposition the thing on your kitchen counter!

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